Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 458), “Thanks for Sharing!”—Ade’s take
Hello there! Hope you’re all doing well today and also hope that you experienced near springlike temperatures like what surrounded me all day!
Today’s puzzle includes a do-si-do of epic proportions. The first theme entry is a two-word answer in which the second word ends up as the first word/element of the subsequent theme entry. That sequence continues from theme entry to theme entry until the final theme entry, which ends with the first word of the first theme.
- BACKHANDS (16A: [Two-handed returns from Venus and Serena])
- HANDS OFF (24A: [“Don’t touch!”])
- OFF WHITE (31A: [Cream of eggshell])
- WHITE SEA (44A: [Inlet off northern Russia])
- SEAGOING (50A: [Like maritime vessels])
- GOING BACK (63A: [Heading home])
Lovely fill with the non-themed entries, especially the clue-answer pairing to FLIP A COIN, as I got a little misled as I thought it was referencing deciding what to do with money for a while (33D: [Decide with money]). I’m guessing the clue to GROAN is meant to refer to the sound solvers make when we understand a clever attempt at a clue and react to it (52D: [Music to a crossword constructor’s ears]). Fortunately enough, Liz’s puzzles do not elicit too many groans, at least I’m safe in assuming that. The same thing cannot be said about the reaction of many of my classmates during our college commencement, when Phylicia RASHAD was our speaker and, being that it was Mother’s Day, talked about a mother’s love at the beginning of her speech (8D: [“Creed II” actress Phylicia]). Well, I, like many others, thought that that was the beginning of her speech, but it turned out, pretty much, to be the whole speech. I was OK with it, but, almost 20 years later, some of my classmates still mention it and grumble about it. Hey, we all got your sheepskins, so let’s move on!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: OATES (31D: [“Blonde” author Joyce Carol Oates]) – One of the all-time great playmakers in the history of the National Hockey League, 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Adam Oates is one of just 13 player in league history with over 1,000 assists in a career, ending his time in the league with 1,079. Oates is most known for his time during the 1990s with the Boston Bruins, yet his most productive years came in the 1990 and 1991 seasons while teamed up with goal-scoring great Brett Hull. Hull scored 72 goals in 1990 and an astounding 86 in 1991, with a slew of those tallies assisted by Oates. By the way, guess what the nickname of the pairing of those two hockey greats was when they were playing at the Gateway to the West.
“Hull and Oates.”
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
David Kahn’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The revealer is CALIFORNIA, clued 58a. [Its “saintly” cities include the starts to 16-, 28-, 37- and 43-Across]. San Jose and other cities are evoked by these names:
- 16a. [Actor who won an Oscar for 1950’s “Cyrano de Bergerac”], JOSE FERRER.
- 28a. [Longtime rival of Roger Federer], RAFAEL NADAL.
- 37a. [Dictator following the Spanish Civil War], FRANCISCO FRANCO. Death toll linked to him, 100,000 to 200,000 people. Enjoy the crossword?
- 43a. [A founder of Mexican muralism], DIEGO RIVERA.
A central 13, FRANCISCO GOYA, could have replaced the dictator. Or a non-Francisco 15 such as Barbara Cartland, Mandrell or Stanwyck, or Anita Sarkeesian. Or rework the other theme lengths when getting rid of Franco. I mean, RAFAEL NADAL isn’t a great themer because San Rafael is quite a bit smaller than all the other San/Santa cities (I sure don’t know where San Rafael is located). Heck, just use some alternate 11s in place of the two men in the 11s as published, and expand the “saintly” vibe from the unspoken SAN to include SANTA. Nothing in the revealer clue dictates that the theme needs to be all dudes. So many possibilities! Barbara Bush or Eden, Rosa Bonheur, Ana Gasteyer or Ivanovic, Clara Barton, or Monica Seles (11). Or with different word lengths, California’s own Barbara Boxer (12) or Rosa Parks (9) could be included. Actress Ana de Armas (10) or political commentator Ana Navarro could replace the unknown-to-many Ferrer. The revealer also doesn’t demand that the names all belong to people with Spanish ancestry, either. Sure, it feels like a “tighter” set with four men with Spanish names, but it comes at a cost.
Worst pile-up: The left middle, where -OSE FARO EDSEL crosses SARDI. Really? None of that is an asset to a grid.
Three more things:
- 36a. [Actress Blunt], EMILY. Her next movie is A Quiet Place Part II. I’ve watched the trailers and I jump, scream, or both every time. The full movie’s gonna scare the crap out of me, but I’ll watch it anyway. Really liked the first one, and appreciate that the deaf daughter is played by a deaf actress, Millicent Simmonds.
- 9d. [Professional on a film set], CAMERAMAN. Sigh. Needlessly gendered occupational title.
- 57a. [Milky white mineraloid], OPAL. Ah, yes. Who doesn’t like milky white mineraloid jewelry?
3.25 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Dangerous Curves” – Derek’s write-up
It again took me a minute to see what was going on here, even though the flavortext is quite plain! It states “every capital letter in the theme has curves”. That doesn’t apply to the puzzle’s title, but rather to the theme entries. The capital letters that have curves are B, C, D, G, J, O, P, Q, R, S, & U. All the the themers are made from those letters and only those. Here they are:
- 17A [*Bowlful on the specials list] SOUP DU JOUR
- 27A [*Italian veal dish] OSSO BUCO
- 40A [*”I Am the Walrus” refrain] GOO GOO G’JOOB – Man, my word list needs work! This is DEFINITELY not in there!
- 54A [*Department of Labor training program] JOB CORPS
- 64A [*Bands like AKB48 and Babymetal (but not BTS–that’s a different letter)] J-POP GROUPS – BTS would be K-Pop!
I think the stars are in because there are longer entries in the grid (see 11D and 26D) than what the theme entries are, which are typically themselves the longest in the grid. Hopefully that doesn’t bother your puzzle esthetics; I didn’t even really notice until I started analyzing the puzzle more closely. As is usually the case with a Jonesin’ theme, I am trying to come up with other answers, and I am too tired to brainstorm any more! 4.3 stars from me today.
A few more things:
- 24A [“Grown-up” cereal ingredient] FIBER – If you’re getting old, like me, you know all about this!
- 1D [“What can Brown do for you?” company] UPS – My old employer in a puzzle!
- 4D [iPad Pro maker] APPLE – Matt, this is too easy!
- 22D [Kevin who played Hercules on TV] SORBO – This is nearly the obscure-pop-culture-reference-of-the-week, but not quite. See below …
- 41D [Kaitlin of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”] OLSON – This show is hilarious. A little edgy, but funny.
- 43D [Capital of Newfoundland and Labrador] ST. JOHN’S – Know your capitals!
- 52D [Ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny] MARR – THIS is certainly the obscure-pop-culture-reference-of-the-week! Never heard of this guy!
- 56D [Alfred P. ___ Foundation (NPR benefactor)] SLOAN – I think I have retained this in my subconscious somewhere, as this is usually mentioned while I am listening to Will’s puzzle on Sunday!
That is all! Another Jonesin’ next week!
Amanda Rafkin & Ross Trudeau’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Clever theme idea, although there are a few songs with the relevant key words in it, but most of them aren’t 15 letters!
- 16A [Citrus drink in a sea breeze cocktail] GRAPEFRUIT JUICE
- 27A [Frivolous legal entanglement] NUISANCE SUIT
- 47A [French luxury retailer since 1854] LOUIS VUITTON
- 59A [2011 Dolly Parton single, and what homophonically happens twice in 16-, 27- and 47-Across] TOGETHER YOU AND I
Do you have a similar song going through your mind? I do! I was thinking of the song You and I by Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle. But I am old, just like that song! I am not familiar with this one, but I also don’t listen to as much country music as I used to. Yes, I USED to! The video for Dolly’s song is below. 4.3 stars for this one.
A few more things:
- 10A [Samantha Bee’s network] TBS – I think I have mentioned her before on this blog, but her show is funny.
- 30A [“Cream of” concoction] SOUP – I just had cream of broccoli soup on Monday!
- 46A [HBO rival, briefly] SHO – Are they really rivals? I suppose so, but they both have good shows. I think HBO is winning in the awards race recently, though.
- 9D [Basketball’s Erving, familiarly] DR. J – This reference is getting dated, since he has been retired for well over 30 years now. I suppose he is still quite famous.
- 11D [Italian lawn bowling game] BOCCI – I played this once in elementary school on a baseball infield. Somebody had the equipment straight from Italy!
- 23D [“Music for Airports” producer Brian] ENO – Is this the most crossword-famous person we know?
- 52D [Jason of “How I Met Your Mother”] SEGEL – Speaking of crossword-famous, this dude has been in a lot more stuff than just this sitcom. He starred in The Muppets, which came out surprisingly almost 10 years ago!
Everyone have a great week!
Barbara Lin’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
Happy Women’s March, as we continue on with a month (and hopefully much more!) of fantastic puzzles by women constructors. Let’s jump into today’s WSJ by Barbara Lin:
4D: FALLING IN LOVE [What gravitation isn’t responsible for, according to Einstein]
7D: CRASHING A PARTY [Action bound to annoy the host]
14D: DUMPSTER DIVING [Searching for buried treasure, in a way]
18D: SKINNY DIPPING [Barely swimming?]
I liked this one! Each of our four themers is certainly “On the Decline” in two senses: each goes down (instead of the typical across) and features a word meaning decline: FALLING, CRASHING, DIVING, and DIPPING. I also appreciated that, of the themers, two had the decline word first and two had it last. Those little bits of elegance matter and make the puzzle feel all the more polished. The themers all felt strong, and the clues for FALLING IN LOVE and SKINNY DIPPING were especially fun.
– In addition to our constructor, the women featured in the puzzle include “The Secret Life of Bees” author Sue Monk KIDD, WENDY from “Peter Pan,” mom kissing your OWIE, ARETHA Franklin, “Girls” creator and star LENA Dunham, Mariah Carey, and LASS.
– I appreciated the representation of people of color at the top of the grid, with “The Jeffersons”, ARETHA, Mariah Carey, and Jamaican SKA music.